Kentucky Derby contender profile: Major Fed

August 17th, 2020

Most horses have a preferred running style, one that allows them to consistently produce their best effort. Take them outside their comfort zone, and they’re apt to disappoint.

Such has been the case with Kentucky Derby (G1) contender Major Fed, a stoutly bred son of Ghostzapper produced by the Smart Strike mare Bobby’s Babe.

A homebred racing for Lloyd Madison Farms IV, Major Fed is most comfortable when he employs late-running tactics. Try to rush him into the early mix, and he is inclined to falter. But let him run his own race, and you can count on Major Fed to come charging hard down the homestretch.

Under the care of trainer Greg Foley, Major Fed demonstrated this preference from an early age. In his debut sprinting 6 furlongs over a sloppy track at Churchill Downs, Major Fed fell back to seventh place early on, but came rallying late to finish third, behind future stakes winner Gold Street.

Major Fed subsequently spent the winter at Fair Grounds, where he steadily refined his late-running technique. After he dominated a 1 1/16-mile maiden race by 4 1/2 lengths in his first start with blinkers, Major Fed joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a second-place finish in a division of the 1 1/8-mile Risen Star (G2), where he finished ahead of future Haskell (G1) runner-up Ny Traffic.

Unfortunately, a slower start than usual left Major Fed with too much to do in the 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby (G2), and the dark bay colt was beaten nearly five lengths and finished fourth. Two months later, a very wide journey, while he attempted to track the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs, proved disastrous. Major Fed weakened down the stretch to finish last of ten.

On the bright side, Major Fed rebounded sharply when he got back to his preferred tactics in the 1 1/8-mile Indiana Derby (G3). Reserved at the back of the pack through the opening half-mile, Major Fed unleashed a wide, sustained rally around the far turn and down the homestretch to finish second, with a career-best 99 Brisnet Speed rating.

Major Fed might not be the fastest or most accomplished Kentucky Derby contender, but with 38 qualification points, his place in the Churchill Downs starting gate is secure. And with his pick-up-the-pieces running style, Major Fed is just the sort of late-maturing colt who can come running late to earn a share of the Kentucky Derby purse.